Policy Implications of the Reduction in Heroin Supply in Australia

Hall, Wayne, Degenhardt, Louisa and Reuter, Peter (2004). Policy Implications of the Reduction in Heroin Supply in Australia. In Louisa Degenhardt, Carolyn Day and Wayne Hall (Ed.), The Causes, Course and Consequences of the Heroin Shortage in Australia (pp. 93-100) Sydney, N.S.W.: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Author Hall, Wayne
Degenhardt, Louisa
Reuter, Peter
Title of chapter Policy Implications of the Reduction in Heroin Supply in Australia
Title of book The Causes, Course and Consequences of the Heroin Shortage in Australia
Place of Publication Sydney, N.S.W.
Publisher National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
Publication Year 2004
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Year available 2004
Series NDARC Monographs; no. 53
ISBN 0642 474 273
Editor Louisa Degenhardt
Carolyn Day
Wayne Hall
Chapter number 9
Start page 93
End page 100
Total pages 8
Total chapters 11
Language eng
Subjects 111706 Epidemiology
160510 Public Policy
Formatted Abstract/Summary
• Reducing the availability of heroin in Australia appears to have produced significant
reductions in the aggregate harm caused by illicit heroin use by substantially reducing
fatal and nonfatal overdose. There has probably also been a reduction in the number of
regular heroin users, most markedly among younger age groups. More entrenched heroin
users probably have not ceased heroin use, and some may have also begun using other
drugs in a risky fashion. Some younger drug users may have shifted to stimulant drugs.

• The heroin shortage was probably caused by changes in heroin supply to Australia
related to Australian drug law enforcement (DLE) rather than to natural events (such as
changes in heroin production).

• The most important implication of the heroin shortage is that it is possible under some
circumstances for law enforcement to substantially reduce the availability of imported
drugs like heroin. It is most likely the result of actions aimed at the very high levels of
drug trafficking. This suggests the importance of maintaining programs at that high level
and of developing a better understanding of how such interventions affect supply.

• It is uncertain to what degree the reduction achieved in heroin supply in Australia in
2000 could be easily reproduced by an act of policy. Such events have been rare in the
history of Australian heroin markets and the 2000 event may have arisen from a
confluence of events. These included a marked increase in heroin availability in the
1990s followed by a sharp decrease in supply at the beginning of 2001 that was
produced by a major increase in Federal resources for DLE in 1998-1999.

• Supply reduction is an important part of drug policy but is important to also have policies
that aim to reduce the demand for drugs, as well as the harms among those who use
drugs despite our best efforts to discourage use.
Q-Index Code B1
Additional Notes ISSN: 1449-7476

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Created: Wed, 01 Apr 2009, 13:51:22 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of School of Public Health